Cats Now Wait For NCAA Tournament; Pinch Hit Home Run Eliminates Kentucky From SEC Tournament
HOOVER, Ala. – TJ Hopkins hit a pinch hit, three-run home run in the seventh inning to give South Carolina a 3-1 victory over No. 8 Kentucky, eliminating the Wildcats from the Southeastern Conference Tournament on Friday, May 26.
The Wildcats (39-20) return to Lexington after a 10-day road trip through Florida and Alabama and will await the NCAA Tournament draw on Monday. UK is expected to host a regional as one of the nation’s top 16 seeds and is still in the discussion for one of the eight national seeds that would maintain home field through the Super Regionals.
Sophomore righthander Justin Lewis (pictured) took a no-hitter into the sixth inning and did not allow a run in his 5.1 innings of work but the UK offense couldn’t find the timely hits it needed to stave off the Gamecocks. The Cats got a run in the first inning but ultimately left nine runners on base and went 2-for-16 with runners on base, including 0-for-9 with them in scoring position. They also had a pair of runners picked off.
South Carolina managed just two hits on the day but used a walk and an error to put two men on in the seventh for Hopkins, who pinch hit for catcher Hunter Taylor. The sophomore outfielder took a pitch from senior lefty Logan Salow and pulled it over the left-field wall for his fifth home run of the season.
Photo by Butch Dill